Graduates in Wonderland is an epistolary memoir between two best friends who graduate college and venture out into the world – literally. Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelka-Dale promise to email each other every week after graduating from Brown University so as not to lose touch and document the epic awesomeness of their lives.
Texas-native, outgoing Jessica Pan ventures off to Beijing in the September after she graduates, bringing along her Norwegian friend Astrid for the first year. She eventually gets a magazine job, has a few small relationships, and ultimately follows her intern, Sam, to Australia. There she and Sam build their relationship and Jessica finishes a graduate degree in Journalism.
Shy, anxious Rachel moves to the concrete jungle in pursuit of a career in the arts, and becomes quickly disenchanted with her assistant job at an art gallery. She lives with Rosabelle, her room mate from college, and Rosabelle’s boyfriend, in a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment. She finds a more desirable job after a while, but is still dissatisfied with life. Rachel applies for the coveted Fulbright Scholarship with the hope of going to Paris to study film – and she gets in. We follow Rachel’s two years in Paris as she learns to make friends and tries to fall in love.
BUT their stories don’t end there. I don’t want to give anymore because their stories need to be experienced in full. I highly encourage young people to pick this up as soon as possible.
Overall, a great summer read for anyone who’s recently (or not so recently) graduated, and trying to make it in this big, scary world. I enjoyed every single email these ladies had written and kept turning the pages to see what happened next! A wanderlust bug myself, I enjoyed seeing two people succeed abroad, that this notion of living life in different places is more than a pipe dream. While mostly the book made me hate my former homebody self, it also helped me realize that every decision I’ve made has led me to where I am, and that plans generally don’t work out for us.